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Guidance on Reporting COVID-19 Qualified Sick and Family Leave Wages


Annemarie Aguanno

Guidance on Reporting COVID-19 Qualified Sick and Family Leave Wages

The IRS has issued guidance to employers on the requirement to report the amount of qualified sick and family leave wages paid to employees under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First Act) ( P.L. 116-127). This reporting provides employees who are also self-employed with information necessary for properly claiming qualified sick leave equivalent or qualified family leave equivalent credits under the Families First Act.

Background
Under the Families First Act, many employers with fewer than 500 employees must provide paid leave to employees due to circumstances related to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Certain employers must provide an employee with up to 80 hours of paid sick leave if the employee cannot work or telework because he or she:

  1. is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  3. is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. is caring for an individual who is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19, or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  5. is caring for a son or daughter if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the child’s care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions; or
  6. is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor.

The employee is entitled to paid sick leave at his or her regular pay rate (or if higher, the applicable federal, state, or local minimum wage), up to:

  • $511 per day ($5,110 in the aggregate) if the employee cannot work for reasons listed in (1), (2), or (3), above;
  • $200 per day ($2,000 in the aggregate) if the employee cannot work for reasons listed in (4), (5), or (6) above.

The Families First Act also amends the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to require employers to provide expanded paid family and medical leave to employees who cannot work or telework for reasons related to COVID-19. An employee can receive up to 10 weeks of paid family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay, up to $200 per day ($10,000 in the aggregate) if the employee cannot work because he or she is caring for a son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable, for reasons related to COVID-19.

Eligible employers may receive a refundable payroll credit for required qualified sick leave wages or qualified family leave wages paid to an employee, plus allocable qualified health plan expenses. An equivalent credit is available to self-employed individuals carrying on a trade or business, if the self-employed individual would be entitled to receive paid leave if he or she were an employee of an employer (other than himself or herself). The refundable credits apply to qualified leave wages paid with respect to the period beginning on April 1, 2020, and ending on December 31, 2020.

Reporting Qualified Leave Wages
In addition to reporting qualified sick leave wages paid and qualified family leave wages paid in Boxes 1, 3 (up to the social security wage base), and 5 of Form W-2 (or, in the case of compensation subject to the Railroad Retirement Tax Act (RRTA), in Boxes 1 and 14 of Form W-2), employers must report to the employee the following types and amounts of the wages that were paid, with each amount separately reported either in Box 14 of Form W-2 or on a separate statement:

  • the total amount of qualified sick leave wages paid for reasons (1), (2), or (3) above, labelled as “sick leave wages subject to the $511 per day limit” or in similar language;
  • the total amount of qualified sick leave wages paid for reasons (4), (5), or (6) above, labelled as “sick leave wages subject to the $200 per day limit” or in similar language; and
  • the total amount of qualified family leave wages paid, labelled as “emergency family leave wages” or in similar language.

If a separate statement is provided and the employee receives a paper Form W-2, the statement must be included with the Form W-2 provided to the employee. If the employee receives an electronic Form W-2, the statement must be provided in the same manner and at the same time as the Form W-2.

Self-Employed Individuals
Self-employed individuals who are claiming qualified sick leave equivalent or qualified family leave equivalent credits, and who are also eligible for qualified sick leave and qualified family leave wages as employees, must report the qualified leave wage amounts described above on Form 7202, Credits for Sick Leave and Family Leave for Certain Self-Employed Individuals, included with their income tax returns. They also must reduce (but not below zero) any qualified sick leave or qualified family leave equivalent credits by the amount of these qualified leave wages.